Lithuanians don’t want to close the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

October 16, 2007 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

Ignalina N plantIt appears that the highest Lithuanian officials are joining a debate, which is gaining momentum, on trying to save the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) from closure at the end of 2009. It started during the energy Conference in Vilnius last week.  Lithuania’s Economy Minister Vytas Navickas declared that the European Union might allow Lithuania to continue operating the plant through 2009, until a new nuclear plant is build.

Mr. Navickas appealed to the fact that once the plant is shut down, the prices of electrical energy will go up by 40 percent and 75 percent of Lithuania’s energy sector will depend on natural gas from Russia. Lithuania has undertaken to decommission the INNP in 2009 and, together with the Baltic countries and Poland, is planning to build a new nuclear power plant, which will be put into production around the year 2015. However, a day later the European commissioner for energy Andris Piebalgs has urged Lithuania not to even think about continuing the operation of the INPP.As the Commissioner announced in Kauno Diena “I cannot understand the arguments of the economy minister. The plant must be shut down as scheduled, as this is provided for in Lithuania’s accession agreement. Besides, there is a mechanism to compensate the decommissioning in place. The grant will be lost unless the obligations are met. And finally, the decommissioning date is no surprise for Lithuania.  Do not waste time on empty discussions.”

Howerver, on the 16 October the joined President Valdas Adamkus the Minister of Economy and expressed his believe that Lithuania may convince the European Union (EU) of the necessity to extend the lifespan of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP). He is confident, however, that the country will avoid energy famine under any scenario.

As the President told on the interview to the Zinių Radijas “First of all, we shall evaluate the current circumstances, future prospects, and then go, talk and negotiate using the language of arguments; I think this is reasoned and necessary. I think it is possible to convince them. Since there are lots of reasonable people and they see the actual situation as it is, since we are a EU Member State, and it is important for the EU not to ruin the whole economic life of one of its members. I think we will not be able to build a new nuclear facility by 2009; it might be expected that we will build by 2012 if we are not put back by vain discussions now. Reasonable people may always agree on a period of two or three years, I believe”.

The President continued, “The most important is that we have a new power plant to be built, and it would be unreasonable, irrational to cut any further supply, sources we are working on at present, somewhere in the middle of the road. I think that any reasonable establishment or a person will understand, this may be reasoned, and we may consider the period of extension so as to have us shift from one system to the other”.  

As the BNS noticed the President saw no major threat of energy famine during the transitional period even if Lithuania failed to agree on the postponement of INPP closure date, and enumerated various options. “I will be visiting Sweden in mid-November, I have already spoken about a possibility to have a link to Sweden via the Baltic Sea, through Estonia, and get electricity from Sweden. Again, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko, who is well aware of the circumstances, told me during the just-ended Vilnius Energy Conference that Ukraine was ready to sell electricity to Lithuania, if required”.

Speaking about the planned new nuclear power station, the president encouraged to switch from talks to concrete work. “We must build it without questions about success. We should arrange without delay who will build it and how will we divide the financial responsibilities among us. Then we should sit around a table with main participants of the projects, namely Latvians and Estonians. I see no problems with them. When it comes to Poland, the Poles said clearly during the Vilnius conference that the power plant was vital to them, as well,” said Adamkus.  

In his words, Poland’s demands to receive more electricity than planned are natural. “I had a thorough discussion with Polish president and other officials of Poland – the demand for electricity is necessary for them amid developing economic life and industry, they have no other way out. If we had such a problem, we would also seek to get as much electricity as we need,” the president noted.

As the BNS informed today a Member of the European Parliament Danute Budreikaite said today that Lithuania still has not exhausted every possibility in the negotiations over extending the operation of the INNP and suggests that the government should make more efforts seeking to postpone the date of shutting down the plant.

The MEP also says that back in September 2006, when the European Council was asked if, should a new situation emerge, Lithuania may “readdress the terms of shutting down the 2nd bloc of the Ignalina nuclear power plant anew,” the answer was that according to the provisions of said Article 37, the concerned Member State, to utilize the opportunity to apply the general safeguard provision, must first of all approach the Commission asking for a permission to take preservation measures based on the information that has been collected and forwarded to it.

“After that, the Commission issues a permission for the preservation measures that, in its own discretion, it considers necessary. So the Commission must asses whether the measures that the author of the question has envisaged can be taken,” the member of the EP says.


Entry filed under: Baltic States, Economics, Energy, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Oil, Poland, Politics, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine.

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